Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

266                               UFE  OF
countless course of past centuries never was so present
to my soul, and never had such a view of eternally-
distant,  destroying and   re-creating futures  dawned
upon me.    When I sometimes looked upwards from
a narrow enclosed valley, to the highest unascendable
summits  of .the mountains  round me, my soul was
overpowered by ideas of solitude, of  loneliness, by
glances into the far distance from those giddy heights,
by   anxious expectation of what   might  be beyond
those mountain summits;  and then the present, the
tangible, the certain^ vanished from my soul, and only
the past, the future,  the distant, and the uncertain,
floated   before my excited,   dreamy phantasy,     My
dear Forster, we must, some time, make a real moun-
tain journey together.    It is less expensive and less
tedious than a journey to   England,   and   must   be
equally important to you as naturalist/3
From Spital Humboldt went to Bern, thence to
Geneva and Lasanne, where he was hospitably
received by the councillor de Rougemont, and pro-
ceeded from there to Basle, There are unfortunately
no accounts existing of this no less interesting part of
his journey. From Carlsruhe he wrote on the 29th
November to Forster, whose family had been
increased by the birth of a little girl :" I rejoice that
the sight of the new-born maiden has induced you to
choose the softer name of Clarchen, instead of the
barbaric boy's name yau intended to adopt from the
Anglo-Saxons and Northmen." Humboldt seems to
have been averse to the real northern element. This
element in Shakespeare, and a certain roughness con-
nected with it, may have been the reason that he was
less intimate with his works than with those of the
ancients and of his native poeta He speaks with
great delight of Ariosto in his aesthetical essays,, while
he rarely mentions Shakespeare.
In the beginning of December our traveller returned
to Mayence. Forster accompanied him to Frankfurt,
where they separated, and never met again in life.
WMle Humboldt, in his love for liberty, always